Retracing Zimbabwe’s liberation to Tanzania

By Theophilus Chuma, Investigative Editor

Mgagao, Morogoro and Kongwa Training camps in Tanzania carry the richness of Zimbabwe’s path to freedom and independence.

A symbol that cannot be substituted, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere’s role in the liberation and independence of Zimbabwe remains permanently imprinted.

Under his wings, many of Zimbabwe’s liberation stalwarts, including President Emmerson Mnangagwa, Vice President General (Retired) Dr Constantino Chiwenga, Commander Defence Forces General Philip Valerio Sibanda, the late former president Robert Mugabe, the late father Zimbabwe, Dr Joshua Nkomo and many other revolutionaries, were housed in Tanzania, mentored and learnt the art of unshackling the bonds of colonialism.

Revisiting these sites, the nostalgia of the sacrifice made by brave men and women to liberate Zimbabwe is still very much present.

For days, this news crew endured the sweltering Tanzanian heat to travel to Nachingweya in the Lindi region, Mgagao in Iringa, Kongwa in Morogoro, Chunya in Mbeya and Bagamoyo in the Coastal Region, about 75km from Dar es Salaam.

Here at Kongwa lies a site rich in history yet remains neglected.

“This is the place where all the freedom fighters used to meet. We had liberation fighters from Zimbabwe, Namibia, South Africa, and Mozambique. All trained here at Kongwa. Later they moved to other training camps at Mgagao and Morogoro,” Commissioner for Kongwa District, Mr Remedius Mwena Emmanuel said.

Tanzania’s support for liberation movements in Southern Africa was without comparison.

The country offered itself as a base for those fighting for liberation, hosting liberation movements such as the African National Congress (ANC) and the Pan African Congress (PAC) from South Africa, the Mozambique Liberation Front (FRELIMO), the People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), the Zimbabwean African National Union (ZANU), the Zimbabwean African People’s Union (ZAPU), and the South West Africa People’s Organisation (SWAPO) from Namibia.

As a show of commitment, key infrastructure such as the Multinational Liberation Movement Medical Training Centre were established to provide medical support for cadres.

Tanzania was a vital pillar for several groups and organisations that aided the liberation struggle, notably the then Organisation of African Unity (OAU), now African Union.

Decades have passed yet the evidence remains intact. Bound through this umbilical cord, Zimbabwe remains conjoined to Tanzania.

The Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Senator Monica Mutsvangwa said, “We forever remain grateful to the contribution made by Tanzania’s founding father, Julius Nyerere. You know it was that sacrifice, that spirit of pan Africanism that brought us together and provided support towards our own independence. For that, we want to thank the late former President Nyerere.”

A house used by the late former President Robert Gabriel Mugabe maintains its importance miles away from his home country.

Though modernised, its significance remains intact.

At the occasion of the burial of the late Tanzanian president John Magufuli last year, President Emmerson Mnangagwa acknowledged this contribution.

“We in Zimbabwe regard Tanzania as both the mother and father of our liberation. The role played by the late Julius Nyerere remains a very important part of our history to independence,” President Mnangagwa said.

In 2018, President Mnangagwa donated US$60 thousand to Kaole College of Agriculture as a token of appreciation to the community that looked after him during the liberation struggle.

This is a unique part of Africa’s history linking the past and the present.